Playoff Hockey Roundup: Stanley Cup Final Preview

2014 Stanley Cup Final
New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings

Game 1: Wednesday in LA at 8pm ET (NBC, CBC)
Game 2: Saturday in LA at 8pm ET (NBCSN, CBC)
Game 3: Monday in New York at 8 ET (NBCSN, CBC)
Game 4: Wednesday, June 11th in New York at 8pm ET (NBC, CBC)
Game 5: Friday, June 13th in LA at 8pm ET (NBC, CBC)
Game 6: Monday, June 16th in New York at 8pm ET (NBC, CBC)
Game 7: Wednesday, June 18th in LA at 8pm ET (NBC, CBC)

This is the third time these two teams have met in the playoffs, the first in the Stanley Cup Final. No, these two have never been in the same conference, this is because of the old playoff formats the NHL used back in the early Expansion Era. New York has won both of the previous matchups: a two games to none in 1979, and a three games to one victory in 1981. The teams split the season series this year: the Rangers winning 3-1 in LA on October 7th and the Kings winning 1-0 in New York on November 17th.

The Rangers entered the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second seed in the Metropolitan Division with 96 points. They faced the Philadelphia Flyers in the division semifinal and while it went to seven games, the Rangers seemed to be in control for most of the series–Game Six brought my hopes up only to be crushed. In the Metropolitan Division Final, the Rangers rallied from down three games to one over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens started off with controversy when NYR F Chris Kreider accidentally took out MON G Carey Price; Price finished the period but did not return for the rest of the series and the Rangers would win in six games, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in twenty years. They have been carried by goalie Henrik Lundqvist throughout the playoffs, especially in the games that closed out all three of their previous series.

The Kings entered the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the third seed in the Pacific Division with 100 points. LA became the fourth team in NHL history to rally from a 0-3 deficit in their first round matchup against the San Jose Sharks. In the Pacific Division Final, the Kings eliminated their “Freeway Faceoff” Rival–the Anaheim Ducks–in seven games. The Kings set an NHL Record eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks in their third-game seven in the Western Conference Final, breaking the record the Rangers set (two game seven’s) a few days later. 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner Jonathan Quick has had an up-and-down postseason as LA has been carried by their depth.

The Kings have scored 73 goals and have allowed 60 in their 21 postseason contests while the Rangers have scored 54 goals and have allowed 45 in their 20 postseason games. The postseason statistics match their respective conferences’ stats from this entire season. Both teams have excelled in their abilities to roll four lines–while New York is deep, LA is deeper. Lundqvist/Quick is the best goalie matchup we could have asked for in a Cup Final. Henrik has been playing up to his “King” nickname throughout the postseason, making himself the favorite for the Conn Smythe if the Rangers win. As mentioned before, Quick hasn’t been able to match his 2012 postseason campaign, but he has shown signs of the 2012 Jonathan Quick when he’s had to.

Our Picks:

 Matty D: Kings in 7
JSB: Rangers in 5
Iceman (who is representing all of Northern New Jersey): Kings in 6

We are once again joined by “The Prophet,” Greg Piatelli. If you recall, The Prophet called the World Series game-by-game. His pick: Kings in 6 – “Lundy will win two if not three games for the Rangers, he’s that good.”

My Pick: Kings in 6 – Aside from this being the pick of both of the Gregs, I truly believe LA’s depth is too much for Lundqvist to handle. The Rangers have had their scoring droughts this postseason, especially on the power play. Even with Jonathan Quick’s shaky play, it’ll be tough for the Rangers to match the King’s explosive abilities to score. Anze Kopitar will take home the Conn Smythe.

Disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

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